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Prioritizing Mental Health in the Workplace: A Path to Success

By Dena Cordova-Jack

Prioritizing Mental Health in the Workplace: A Path to Success
PRIORITIZING MENTAL HEALTH IN THE WORKPLACE: A PATH TO SUCCESS In today's culture, the importance of understanding mental health in the workplace cannot be overstated. Organizations increasingly recognize mental well-being's critical role in employee productivity, satisfaction, and overall success. A 2021 Harvard Business Review study concluded that 68% of Millennials and 81% of Gen Z'ers had left a job for mental health reasons, both voluntarily and involuntarily. 90% of these two generations in the survey believe employers should support mental health in the workplace, and as the shifting generational demographics continue in our workforce, we need to consider what the new workplace and culture look like. But it isn't just the younger generations affected - the study also showed that C-suite executives of the Boomer and Gen X groups report higher instances of "taking a mental health day" than just five years ago. The Impact of Mental Health on the Workplace The impact of mental health on the workplace is substantial. Studies have shown that untreated mental health conditions can result in increased absenteeism, reduced productivity, employee turnover, and hostility in the workplace that may, unfortunately, escalate to violence. Adverse consequences are not limited to individuals; they may also permeate through the entire organization, leading to decreased morale, collaboration, and overall performance. Conversely, workplaces that prioritize mental health experience numerous benefits. Employees in supportive environments report higher job satisfaction, improved focus, increased motivation, and enhanced creativity. Building a Supportive Workplace Culture Creating a supportive workplace culture is fundamental to addressing mental health concerns. Organizations should strive to foster an open and inclusive environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental well-being without fear of judgment or reprisal. Achieve a proactive culture towards well-being through various initiatives, including: 1. Encouraging open communication: Remove the stigma of discussing mental health in the workplace. Establish channels for employees to share concerns or seek support, such as regular check-ins, anonymous suggestion boxes, or dedicated HR resources. Managers should actively listen to their team members, provide empathetic responses, and connect them with appropriate resources when needed. 2. Promoting work-life balance can be difficult due to the demands of our industry. Consider options to encourage a healthy work-life balance by implementing policies such as flexible working hours, hybrid work options, job sharing, or malleable time off policies. Encouraging breaks and discouraging excessive overtime can help prevent burnout and promote overall well-being. 3. Providing mental health resources: Offer access to resources, such as counseling services, workshops, or educational materials. Employee assistance programs (EAPs) through health insurance companies can be crucial in providing confidential support and guidance to employees facing mental health challenges. Business insurance carriers in our industry offer resources to their members. They are aware of the benefits of employee well-being resources to their clients. Local trade associations can also be a resource, as they have partnerships with organizations that provide contract human resource services. 4. Training and awareness programs: Conduct regular training sessions to educate employees and managers about mental health, including recognizing signs of distress, reducing stigma, and promoting self-care. Such programs can contribute to a more empathetic and understanding work environment. Strategies for Management and Leadership Managers and leaders have a pivotal role in fostering a mentally healthy workplace. They should prioritize employee well-being by: 1. Leading by example: Displaying a healthy work-life balance, managing stress effectively, and demonstrating openness about their mental health can set a positive tone for the entire team. The leadership models of today are changing. The lines are rapidly blurred between personal and professional lives, primarily due to the rise of technology. Leadership is no longer explicitly relegated to employees and their work – leadership must embrace the “whole person” of the employee. 2. Providing support and feedback: Regularly check in with employees to discuss their workload, challenges, and concerns. Offer constructive feedback, acknowledge achievements, and ensure that workloads are manageable. 3. Flexible accommodations: Be flexible in accommodating employees' needs, such as adjusting work schedules or providing reasonable accommodations for mental health conditions – FMLA at the federal level, and many states have legislation about employee rights regarding mental health leave and absences. 4. Promoting a positive work environment: Foster a positive and supportive atmosphere by recognizing and appreciating individual contributions, promoting teamwork and collaboration, and celebrating milestones and achievements. According to many statistics, showing appreciation and thanking employees ranks in the top 3 of “most important” in the workplace. Prioritizing mental health in the workplace is a moral imperative and an intelligent business decision. The numbers tell the story. Fostering a supportive work culture can improve employee well-being, enhance productivity, and reduce turnover. It is essential for employers to recognize the importance of mental health, implement strategies to support their employees and create an environment where individuals feel valued, heard, and empowered. By doing so, organizations can pave the way for employee and company success while positively impacting their bottom line. Play to Win, Dena Questions? Reach out to Dena Here
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